On Cancer

A couple days ago I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. While I have opted to share my diagnosis, and positive prognosis, I have made a conscious decision to keep my care plan, diagnostics and details to myself. This is not only because one woman suggested to me that perhaps it’s just a gluten allergy (which made me laugh uncontrollably for ten minutes straight) but also because I don’t want this to become who I am. Cancer is not my new hobby.

I’ve come to feel that a cancer diagnosis is the eye of the storm. It is the quiet tunnel through which chaos swirls outward and yet does not disturb. It is the wind knocked out of you. A moment, watching the people around you scramble and rush to your side while you lay breathless, stunned and still.

They panic and I think about bare feet.

I think about bare feet on cold wooden floors, one my favorite feelings, stepping out of bed on winter mornings. I think about bare feet on fresh cut grass, crushed beneath but still cushioning each step from dirt and rock. I think about bare feet in oppressive sun, warm and raw with anticipation of cool water compromise.

I think about bare feet and I think about my humanity, so much more than this mortal coil, and yet the culmination of every touch and sensation I’ve known, all those bare footsteps. Oversteps. Missteps. I am my interpretation and response to my experiences. I am efforts. I am successes. I am mistakes, but I am not defined by a disease.

I will be ok. Everything will be ok.

I will be bare feet on a warm brick path. I will be a hand placed on the small of my back. I will be my son’s head resting on my shoulder. I will be my daughters grasp of fingers. I will be the brush of hair away from my face, tucked behind my ear. I will be the touch and embrace of all my life’s yesterdays.

So, I won’t share a bunch of numbers. If you ask how I’m feeling, I’ll probably say “I’m fine.” I’ll still be myself, and for me, that will be the “win.”

Everything will be ok. Cancer is the eye of the storm but storms subside.


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Sara Dorner is a labor representative and community activist living and working in her hometown of Rockford, Illinois. Her two young children keep her busy and make life fun!

9 thoughts on “On Cancer”

  1. You will be okay, though you were probably disappointed when they made you wear the nonslip slippers in the hospital.
    You will meet wonderful people, people who will also crack jokes because they can, because they are there too.
    I wrote a book for you, that was before I knew how to blog.

  2. Thank you for writing “I don’t want this to become who I am. Cancer is not my new hobby.” I needed to hear that. Best luck to you.

  3. wishing you all the best – I had a lumpectomy in 2007 & have been cancer free ever since

    I wrote a bit about it on my blog as well

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you say. I’ve been through enough health crisis is to know that I don’t want every conversation to start off with a head tilt and a “so how are you doing?” I don’t want casseroles basis although we do know some people who are good cooks so that wouldn’t be all bad. Someday if I get to the point that I need casseroles then I’ll share all my information with the world until then I’ll just keep on living.

    1. You are amazing and brave. I pray to the Almighty to give you more power and peace . I am sure you will sail through this rough patch with ease!

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